The snark may not be as thick as it has been in weeks past, but watching any player, regardless of team, suffer an injury that could be career-ending tends to put a bit of a pall on any party. If it had been the most vile of all players (yeah, I’m looking at you, Vontaze Burfict), I’d feel exactly as I do now about Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spinal contusion in Monday night’s comeback win over the Bengals. This is a game, and it’s probably good for all of us to remember that.
Still, now and then, a guy’s gotta snark. I’ll do my best!
Countdown List of the Week: Top Three Reasons Tom Brady Yelled at Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels on Sunday
3) Calling a deep pass when he knew Brady had already lost a contact
Really, who has any depth perception through one underinflated (eye)ball?
2) Sarcastically asking if Uggs had any plans to make cleats
If Tom starts doing commercials for Lu La Roe leggings and form-fitting North Face vests, I’m outta here.
1) Pranking Tom by smearing Icy Hot on his jock strap before the game
That really smarts.
Meme Tweets of the Week
There’s a really terrible Andy Reid joke after the tweet.
Live view of the Chiefs season. pic.twitter.com/gGHi1VBt90— The Fake ESPN (@TheFakeESPN) December 3, 2017
The Manhattan Project gave us “Fat Man” and “Little Boy”. The Kansas City Chiefs did too, but we call them “Andy Reid” and “Tyreek Hill”.
I warned you.
I’ll miss you, Ben McAdoo.
It has come to pass: the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. I’m trying my best to work in a Monty Python reference about firing llamas, but I can’t do it: no self-respecting llama would ever grow that mustache.
To be fair, you can pretty much say this about all the 10-2 teams.
After 13 weeks, there are only 11 teams with winning records. The other 10-2 teams have the following wins over winning teams, and losses (of any kind):
Wins: Vikings (10-2), Ravens (7-5), Titans (8-4); Losses: Chicago (3-9), Jacksonville (8-4)
When there are only 11 teams currently with winning records, the opportunities for beating winning teams are few and far between.
Winless Teams Watch
The Browns are now 0-for-EVER, or something like that. The good news: they finally got Josh Gordon back, after several years of being banned for substance abuse issues. I’m truly, truly rooting for him to have finally turned things around. He and Martavis Bryant could make a huge impact once their careers are over if they joined forces to teach kids about the consequences of drug addiction and abuse.
Despite losing their twelfth game of the season, Sunday, the Browns — and Gordon, specifically — were winners in a very different way. Welcome back, kid; now man up and prove the doubters wrong. Oh, and help your team beat the Ravens in two weeks. That would be hilarious.
Crazy Stat of the Week
The leaderboard for States with Multiple NFL Teams:
- Pennsylvania - .834, 20-4 (PIT 10-2, PHI 10-2)
- Florida - .528, 19-17 (JAX 8-4, MIA 7-5, TB 4-8)
- California - .479, 23-25 (LAR 9-3, LAC 6-6, OAK 6-6, SF 2-10)
- Texas - .417, 10-14 (DAL 6-6, HOU 4-8)
- New York - .361, 13-23 (BUF 6-6, NYG 5-7, NYJ 2-10)
- Ohio - .208, 5-19 (CIN 5-7, CLE 0-12)
Analysis: Pennsylvania is the best state in the Union (and not just for football).
Right now I’m enjoying a fine Belgian Quad called Wanton Westy from JTBD Brewing...and you can’t have any, because it’s from my friend’s basement. Sorry that you can’t join in the 11-percent ABV fun. I wish I could insert a “sad trombone” sound here.
- Does JuJu Smith-Schuster deserve a suspension? Maybe, but not for his hit. That taunting was unneeded and uncalled for. However, to equivocate his infractions — a barely illegal hit on Vontaze Burfict that was about two inches too high, and standing over the Bengals’ buffoonish linebacker afterward — with the actions of Rob Gronkowski is setting yet another dangerous precedent. Gronkowski threw himself, shoulder-first, onto the back and head of a Bills defender well after the whistle. His actions were deliberate and done with the intent to injure, while Smith-Schuster’s occurred as he tried to block a defender who was lining up to make a play on ball-carrier Le’Veon Bell. The same applies to Bengals safety George Iloka, who fired off a helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Antonio Brown: it happened while he tried to make a play. Giving those two plays the same penalty as Gronkowski is ludicrous.
- Considering Smith-Schuster’s hit was on Vontaze Burfict, it re-raises the question: why does Burfict often seem to get the benefit of the doubt? Bengals fans will disagree here, but Burfict kicked Roosevelt Nix in the face after the whistle when the Steelers and Bengals met in Pittsburgh in week seven, and only got fined. That, like Gronkowski’s move, was done with the intent to injure. And it’s far from the first time Burfict has been in trouble. He’s received almost a million dollars in fines in his time in the NFL, but he’s also been given inexplicable passes quite often, too. It just makes no sense.
- Weren’t the Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders supposed to be fighting for one, if not two, playoff spots? Right now, the Chargers might pull a ridiculously generous worst-to-first in the AFC West, base on nothing more than they can’t seem to lose games as quickly as the rest of the division. Yikes.
I have to finish this with some perspective on Shazier. From the football angle, he’s completely irreplaceable by anyone the Steelers have or might acquire. Second-year player Tyler Matakevich is as good of a tackler as you will find anywhere in the NFL, but he’s not even half the athlete Shazier is — and he ended up getting hurt, too. They signed one of their alums to take Shazier’s place on Tuesday when they brought back Sean Spence, but Spence’s own injury history is one of the more grotesque in NFL lore — and while he has a nose for the ball and is very quick, there is a reason he has been cut by two different teams this season.
Shazier is a baller, and that cannot be replaced quickly or easily.
Beyond the football side of things, we are all waiting with bated breath to find out the long-term fate of someone who still has most of his life ahead of him. This was his fourth season in the NFL, and he was unarguably the second-most important player on the defense behind defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. He was one of the league’s rising stars, and now we aren’t talking about when he will come back; the conversation is squarely on whether he will even walk again.
I’ve said it here before, and I’ll say it again: football is a game. If it went away tomorrow, the world would go on just the same as it always has. From the good guys like J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, etc. to the “villains” like Burfict, Aqib Talib and others, these are still human beings whose bodies can be just as easily broken by injury as yours and mine. The difference is they are putting theirs on the line for our entertainment, week-in and week-out. Sure, let’s enjoy the game. But let’s not forget where it stands in the grand scheme of things.
My prayers go out to Shazier and his loved ones, and I hope yours do, too.